Salivary gland surgery and nonviral respiratory-related hospitalizations in children with neurodevelopmental impairment

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Objectives: Neurodevelopmentally impaired (NI) children with chronic sialorrhea are at elevated risk for aspiration and respiratory tract infections. Direct resection or ligation (“DROOL”) of the submandibular glands (SMG) with parotid duct ligation are surgical interventions intended to decrease salivary output. The objective of this study is to determine the impact of DROOL surgery on the incidence of nonviral respiratory-related (NVR) post-procedure hospital encounters including emergency department visits and admissions. Methods: Retrospective case series of NVR related outcomes after DROOL surgery in children performed at a single institution, tertiary referral center. Results: A total of 35 gastrostomy tube-dependent patients (60% male, average age 8.2 [SD 6.0] years) with NI underwent DROOL surgery (86% SMG excision). Pre- and post-surgical follow-up time was 3.6 and 3.2 years, respectively. Presurgical and postsurgical NVR hospital encounters occurred in 28 (80%) and 14 (40%) patients, respectively (p < 0.01). Mean (SD) postoperative NVR hospital encounters occurred less frequently when compared to presurgical period (0.4 [0.6] vs. 1.0 [1.2] per year, p < 0.01) with average change of −0.7 encounters per year (SD 1.4, 95% CI -1.0 to −0.2). Patients with encounters within a year preceding DROOL (OR 4.9, p = 0.04, 95% CI 1.1–22.8), or those with at least 3 preoperative encounters (OR 8.0, p = 0.01, 95% CI 1.6–40.3) were significantly associated with a postsurgical NVR event. Fewer patients used anti-sialorrhea medication postoperatively compared to preoperatively (60% vs. 17%, p < 0.01). No patient developed surgical site complications requiring operative interventions. Conclusions: DROOL surgery for chronic sialorrhea in patients with NI was associated with decreased hospitalization and ED visits for NVR respiratory events post-procedurally. Sialorrhea may be an actionable source of recurrent respiratory illnesses requiring hospitalizations. Level of evidence: 4.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number111362
JournalInternational journal of pediatric otorhinolaryngology
StatePublished - Dec 2022


  • Aspiration
  • Cerebral palsy
  • Neurodevelopmental impairment
  • Pediatric
  • Respiratory infection
  • Sialorrhea

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Otorhinolaryngology


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